Being outsmarted by a Smurf is like being outsmarted by one of your shoes. The Smurfs each fulfill a specific function in their little communist utopia, such as being bashful, vain or gay. Take them out of that element and they have no idea how to cope outside of screaming their blue heads off to get Papa Smurf to rescue them. The fact that Papa Smurf usually does rescue them by using his own magical powers means that Papa Smurf is actually a far greater wizard than Gargamel. By extension this probably also means that one of your shoes is likely a far greater wizard than Gargamel.
Ulrich of Craggenmoor (Dragonslayer)
In this 1981 cult classic, Ulrich of Craggenmoor is the only wizard left in the world, or at least the world known as the Kingdom of Urland in which the film takes place. He is almost immediately killed while showing off for a knight named Tyrian.
The case against him:
You might think it's a little unfair to pick on a wizard who dies right at the beginning of his film, and we'd have to agree with you in most cases except this one. When Ulrich dies, no one remains to defeat the evil dragon, Valerian, except Ulrich's doofy apprentice, Galen Bradwarden. The entire movie passes by before you find out Ulrich died on purpose so Galen could bring him back to life at the end, thus saving Ulrich from an entire movie's worth of walking around.
That's right--he'd rather die than exert himself a little. Here we're not even discussing wizarding powers-Ulrich is simply an extremely lazy human being. As a wizard, you'd think there would be an easier means other than causing one's own death to span distances or time. Cryogenic freezing would be one. Carbonite would be another. As would turning one's self into some kind of winged creature and gliding to wherever it is you're going.
Any decent wizard should have any number of these options at his fingertips, and by all accounts Ulrich was a more-than-decent wizard. Then again, if part of Ulrich's decision to die was to get out of having to hang out with that dumbass Galen for the entire movie, we have an entirely new respect for him.
Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)
Gandalf is a wizened old wizard beloved by Hobbits and various other things in part due to his curmudgeonly nature and propensity for smoking weed while lighting off trippy fireworks. In the films, he has a working knowledge of Middle Earth geography, has a number of decent contacts amongst the ruling parties of the land and is there with his glowing staff whenever anyone needs a flashlight.
The case against him:
In the books, Gandalf is a being of extraordinary magical prowess. Immortality, for starters. He also happens to be able to disappear at will, is apparently impervious to injury, can conjure and control fire, has limitless knowledge of spells, potions, and sorcery, and is all but unequaled in the wizard world.
In the films, though, we primarily see his ability to speak ominously when any Hobbit gives him any lip, and for being able to produce light from the end of his decorative stick. Without warning, he'll flash real ability, such as when he went toe-to-toe with the massive fiery Balrog (complete with a cool-ass invincibility bubble that would have come in handy on about 200 other occasions).
That he chooses to use those skills so rarely with all of Middle Earth at stake must have been incredibly frustrating for the people who had to work with him. If he can defeat a Balrog, why does he spend 12 hours sitting around trying to figure out the password to the Gates of Moria? Why not just blow them up with a silent rock-exploding spell? Why is a super-powered wizard with unlimited magical ability doing fighting orcs hand-to-hand?
This is like melting ants with a magnifying glass when you have access to an M1 Abrams tank. The same guy who can make magical force fields that will block a giant demon sword in the first film, goes charging into battle in the third by smacking people with his staff.
Gandalf's laziness as a wizard is cemented by his perpetual spankings at the hand of Saruman, who one-ups Gandalf time and again.
Gandalf shoves Saruman with his stick, Saruman then makes Gandalf spin wildly on his head and then levitates thousands of feet to the top of Isengard Tower. Gandalf speaks to butterflies, Saruman creates a new race of super-monsters. Gandalf makes fireworks, Saruman creates an avalanche from hundreds of miles away.
It kind of makes it hard to root for Gandalf to be top wizard in Middle Earth. Saruman sort of earned it.
If you'd like to read us bitch and moan about other movie conventions that probably didn't bother you until now, check out our rundown of The 6 Movie Formulas That Must be Stopped. Then, read about one movie in particular that's pissing Wayne Gladstone off (It should be noted at this point that Wayne gets pissed off about celebrity nanny hiring criteria and Spice Girls reunion tours, so he might just be an angry man)